Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ant astronauts

I instantly fell in love with these geeky yet thoughtful recounts of an expedition to an alien planet by a group of tiny astronauts, created by illustrator Matt Pettinson. In their stilted and meticulous log, we see the expedition running into the usual and expected mishaps such as machine malfunction, malicing local biosphere, and mysterious and marvelling sights on the unknown world. Be sure to catch more artwork on the artist's blog.

Culprit Tech

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rodent recipes

The complete guide to catching and cooking rodents. From Hammyburgers to Chipmunk Chili, Porcupine Stew and Groundhog Pie, this leaves out hardly any rodent species and also teaches you how to hunt, skin and cook your prey. Will be extremely useful when the only food source left is rats!

Rodents, one of several kinds of vertebrates included in the human diet, are very suitable as human food. More than 71 genera and 89 species of rodents, mostly hystricomorphs, have been consumed by man. Some have even been domesticated for private or commercial production of food for human consumption. Rodents in the temperate world serve only as a supplement to the regular diet of humans; but in the tropical world, they are widely accepted and a popular source of protein.

18 Delicious Rodents - How to Cook Rodents - Rodents as a Food Source

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blade Runner 2.0

Something Awful's The Awful Movie Database surprised me with this hilarious spoof for Blade Runner 2.0: Cyberchase.

- Miscellaneous: No matter how futuristic the weapon design, guns are not able to shoot bullets capable of "penetrating the fourth, and most of the fifth, dimension."
- Miscellaneous: Deleting a user's avatar does not cause them to die in real life.
- Miscellaneous: Firewalls cannot be bypassed by repeatedly pressing the turbo button on a Pentium II.

Something Awful: Blade Runner 2.0

World War Z, 2006

World War Z by Max Brooks, published in 2006. I rarely post current books but to me World War Z has already established itself as a classic. It recounts the so called "Zombie War", caused by a virus called "Solanum" that reanimates corpses to mindless beings with immense bloodlust (that's what you call zombies usually). The book introduces a great many settings and characters, all of which tell their story in a fictional oral history of the cause of the outbreak, initial panic and aftermath of the crisis.

The Zombie Survival Guide, Brooks' first book, was a fun read, but with this novel he takes his obvious Zombie-obsession to a whole new level and creates, as has already been mentioned, a future classic.

It goes by many names: "The Crisis," "The Dark Years," "The Walking Plague," as well as newer and more "hip" titles such as "World War Z" or "Z War One." I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable "Z War Two." For me, it will always be "The Zombie War," and while many may protest the scientific accuracy of the word zombie, they will be hardpressed to discover a more globally accepted term for the creatures that almost caused our extinction. Zombie remains a devastating word, unrivaled in its power to conjure up so many memories or emotions, and it is these memories, and emotions, that are the subject of this book.

This record of the greatest conflict in human history owes its genesis to a much smaller, much more personal conflict between me and the chairperson of the United Nation's Postwar Commission Report. My initial work for the Commission could be described as nothing short of a labor of love. My travel stipend, my security access, my battery of translators, both human and electronic, as well as my small, but nearly priceless voice activated transcription "pal" (the greatest gift the world's slowest typist could ask for), all spoke to the respect and value my work was afforded on this project. So, needless to say, it came as a shock when I found almost half of that work deleted from the report's final edition.

Read World War Z by Max Brooks

110 years of War of the Worlds

H. G. Wells War Of The Worlds has been in print for over 110 years, and this cover collection is an attempt to bring together all covers of all editions in all languages. Great to browse, and as can be seen, I dig the simplistic approach to representing the contents of the book most, especially the 1984 version (middle image)--so simple yet crafty and telling!

The War of the Worlds - Book Cover Collection

Terminator timeline

The premise of the story told by the Terminator franchise has changed considerably since the first movie. The actions in the movie and its sequel seem to have altered the course of events in the future, an that's what is visualized in io9's handy timeline overview posted a while back (before both the latest movie and the series finale of The Sarah Connor Chronicles were out, in fact).

The conclusion appears to be that humans are much worse off now than before Skynet started meddling with time. To be sure, the first Terminator movie prophesied a dark and terrible future, but Kyle Reese told Sarah that the resistance (led by John Connor, their son) was close to defeating Skynet, which then as a last-resort measure sent a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah Connor.

In the second movie, Sarah Connor manages to destroy Cyberdyne, the creator of Skynet. But here's the catch: this postponed Judgment Day by a few years, but it also seems to have made Skynet stronger. In both Salvation and Chronicles, the position of the human resistance appears to be a lot weaker than in the original setting. Skynet has stronger weapons and cyborgs, and earlier than it should, and the resistance relies heavily on "converted" Terminators in their bases (some of them even becoming leaders of human crews, such as the submarine captain in Chronicles).

Could it be that that trying to change the future (that is, trying to destroy Skynet before it can be created) actually makes things worse instead of better? It appears that way--so maybe the opposite is true also, meaning that Skynet killing Sarah Connor might by some means have led to a totally Skynet-free future? We'll never know, but it would have made a damn short story, that's for sure.

io9 - 10 Different Timelines From The Terminator Universe

Friday, May 22, 2009

Focke-Wulf Triebflügel

A plane with a jet propeller twisting around the cockpit? Why not, according to some plans of the Nazis to build this crazy machine called Triebflügel. More funny and crazy inventions at the link.

Standard helicopters are that rare Trapper Keeper doodle that actually worked. (...) The main hurdle was controlling the damn thing: Every time they tried to build one, the body of the air craft would spin right along with the blades. But by WWII, the Germans had finally done it, using a second propeller to create helicopters that could safely fly from point A to point B. Hitler looked at the package of bad assery, and decided that the whole thing just wasn't quite crazy enough. And so the Nazis decided to spice things up with a bunch of ramjet engines.

7 WTF Military Weapons You Won't Believe They Actually Built

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mirelurk semen classifieds

Something Awful has put up some hilarious fictional classified ads from the world of Fallout 3, including this one:

Large Quantities of Mirelurk semen! For reasons I can't get into, I'm selling my entire 30 gallon collection, the largest in the entire Captital Wasteland!

Something Awful: Capital Wasteland Classifieds

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

T2 or T3

Is Terminator 3 just a retelling of its sequel Terminator 2? It pretty much is, if you believe this side-by-side comparison of movie stills and plot developments.

"Even the most die-hard Terminator fan would have to admit the storyline feels like a shameless and not particularly inspired retread of Terminator 2" Empire Magazine 2009

T2 or T3

Mini surveillance robot

These minibots are funny. iRobot is developing a super-light mini surveillance robot, which can act autonomously and in a network with others of its kind:

The idea is for a soldier to dispatch a swarm of these “Ember” bots to scout out a possibly-hostile building, instead of sending a single, large Packbot. Once inside, the Embers would set up an ad-hoc wireless network, and then autonomously scurry around the floor (kind of like iRobot’s Roomba vaccum cleaning automaton). Tiny flippers will help them vault over objects. Cameras will beam the scene back to the G.I.

I'm more thinking about the non-military use of these or even smaller bots--what would you do with them? Send them out to your preferred nightclubs to check out which one is worth going to? More probably these would make perfect surveillance (and stalking) tools. Just empty out a bag of these and see them scurrying away, homeing in on your target and giving you permanent live feed on them.

Video: iRobot Rolls Out One-Pound Machine, Ready to Swarm | Danger Room |

Summer goes, Eliza stays

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has now, after much speculation, finally been cancelled. So we won't see Summer Glau (above) as killer babe bot Cameron again I'm afraid. Deprived of awesomeness we are! On the other hand, Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, which had been paired with Chronicles on Friday nights on Fox will return with a second season. So at least Eliza Dushku (below) returns as mind-wiped killer babe.

By the way here's what Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said about the axing of Chronicles:

[Sarah Connor] has completed its run. I think it had a nice little run. It was a good show. It was not an either or [with Dollhouse]. We did see it tailing off a bit [in the ratings]. It had a nice creative core, but, ultimately, we made the bet on Dollhouse, so that's it for [Sarah Connor]... We make no apologies. We gave it a lot of support and some consistent scheduling. We tried and thought it was time to move on.

UPDATE: Seems as if we'll be getting the best of both worlds, as rumours are out and about of an appearance of Summer Glau on Dollhouse.

io9 - Dollhouse Still On Friday Nights. And Fox Delivers Sarah Connor's Epitaph. - Dollhouse

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Top most awesome video game weapons

So there's tons of top ten lists for video game weapons out there. Still I have my own take on this, so here it goes.

1. Chainsaw (Doom)
This Evil Dead inspired weapon (including the "Groovy" voiceover when picking up the weapon) embodies everything that made Doom so great. I remember in the original game it was a pretty rare item and only found in secret areas until late in the game.

2. Shotgun (every game) / Double Barreled Shotgun (Doom 2)
Not much to say about this, really. Standard in just about every shooter and rightfully so.

3. Nailgun (Quake)
This was a fun weapon in the Quake games. Very accurate and with no recoil it was the perfect weapon for spraying a room from a long distance, the only drawback being that you'd run out of ammo real fast.

4. Ripper (Dead Space)
Just when you think you have seen it all, along comes Dead Space with its somewhat goofy (yet fun) premise to "Cut off their limbs" (of the aliens you encounter, of course). Many of the unique weapons found in the game are suited to do just that, but doing the aforementioned with a remote-controlled industrial saw disc is really on top of the list.

5. Shrink Ray (Duke Nukem 3D)
Certainly one of the most fun weapons in multiplayer mode, especially when used on a large group of players. It shrinks everyone to just a few centimeters in size, so all shrinked player start scrambling for some hiding place while the rest tries to squash them under their boots.

6. Railgun (Quake III Arena)
The railguns from the Quake games were a really cool addition to the already impressive arsenal of the first game. The railgun blasts over extremely long distances and hits the exact spot where it's pointed, but it takes a lot of mastery to be successful with this weapon. Unsurprisingly, in multiplayer people use it like crazy, so if you step into a random server game, be prepared to be frizzed from all sides with accurate railgun fire.

7. Tesla Cannon (Fallout 3)
Fallout 3 has many great and fun weapons. So many, in fact, that sometimes you're really at loss which one to use. The alien weapons are quite cool, as is the missile launcher, assault and sniper rifles, scoped Magnum, etc. etc. However I find myself regularly using the Tesla gun, a heavy piece of artillery which does tremendous damage and also creates a plasma ball that does continuous damage for a couple of seconds.

8. BFG 9000 (Doom)
Doom again, of course. Even though you wouldn't end up using this weapon so much, it still rules in terms of awesomeness. The strange dynamics of the weapon (it killing everything in your sight upon impact) could lead to tricky uses in the game, namely shooting inside a room and then shortly before impact moving in, utterly flattening all enemies in sight.

9. Gauss Gun (Syndicate)
Syndicate really had a great arsenal, but whenever possible I ended up equipping this rocket launcher, blowing up stuff left and right.

The globe

Kyle had just entered the lab and switched on the first couple of computers and machines, when he noticed a flash outside. He stepped to the window and saw the trees outside swinging in gushes of wind. Looking down to the courtyard in front of the building, a piercing blue light in the bushes a few meters away from the building fell into his eyes. It was blinking in short bursts. "What is it," he wondered, when he noticed Zack's trademark red jacket moving towards the light source. What is he up to?

After hasting down the twelve flights of stairs to the ground floor, Kyle exited the building breathing heavily and started towards where Zack was kneeling now. Zack was looking down at something, but Kyle couldn't see exactly what it was while he was jogging towards the undergrowth which obscured his view. Stepping over a final hedge, Kyle could finally make out that Zack had put his right hand on a globe the size of a bowling ball. It was dark blue and nowhere near as bright as when Kyle first noticed it from the lab. Maybe whatever it had emanated then had now subsided.

Zack picked up the globe and held it closer to his face. It didn't seem heavy. "Hey, what is that?", Kyle asked, but at first got no reaction from Zack, whose eyes were fixed on the globe.

"Did you see how bright that was before?"

"It wasn't bright, it was active. It isn't now," Zack replied.

"So you know what that is?"

"What we've been looking for," Zack said, smiling and finally turning his face towards Kyle who was standing above him with his hands to his hips. But even though Zack was looking straight into Kyle's eyes, his face seemed distracted, as if the globe didn't allow his attention to be divided. His smile was weak and quivering slightly.

I remember his face clearly. For this look of distractedness and distance, as if something was pulling at him and sucking him out, didn't leave him, until the very end.

I just wish we didn't--neither looked for it, nor found it. I'm pretty sure Kyle agrees, and Zack too, even though Zack is far past agreeing to anything now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Road trailer finally here

Just yesterday I was writing about the first review of the upcoming The Road movie, and lo and behold here's the trailer finally available. Very much like the Esquire review lamented, the trailer plays up like an action-packed apocalyptica thriller, with fast cuts, cannibal drums and catchy phrases like "RUN" and "HIDE". io9, who put up the trailer (of which you can see a few stills above), even goes so far as calling it a "terrible Roland Emmerich thrill-ride."

I know the purpose of theatrical trailers is to get everyone interested in the film, but I have a feeling this movie isn't the fast paced on the run from cannibals, fire storm, kaboom, pow! flick the trailer makes it out to be - and it shouldn't be. The story is, at its heart, about a man and a boy and holding on to their last shreds of hope while encountering the darkest sides of humanity. It is not an end of the world catastrophe flick that puts a father and son on a fast-paced adventure.

Catch the trailer at the io9 web site, and make up your own mind. The Road will be in theatres in October.

io9 - The Road Trailer Plays Like Terrible Roland Emmerich Thrill Ride - The Road

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Iron Sky posters

Finally more news from Iron Sky, the movie about a secret Nazi moon base harbouring the Fourth Reich, out to overwhelm mankind. io9 has new movie posters plus a great "motion poster" of an incoming armada of Nazi spaceships, all taken from the official site They also posted more cast news:

German actor Götz Otto will step in the boots of the intelligence officer Klaus Adler, a fanatic Moon Nazi devoted on invading the Earth. Otto has previously appeared in numerous feature films and tv-series, including attempting to kill James Bond as Mr. Stamper in the film Tomorrow Never Dies...

The other two new cast members attached to Iron Sky are also from Germany. Veteran actor Tilo Prückner (The Neverending Story) will design the wunderwaffe of the Fourth Reich as the Nazi scientist Doktor Richter. The legendary Udo Kier (Dogville, Blade, Shadow of the Vampire) will appear as the Nazi Moon base commander Wolfgang Höss.

The teaser trailer they have on their page is blocked for Germany, but we posted a good version a while back. You can also read about main cast member Julia Dietze here on the blog.

io9 - The Fourth Reich Takes Flight In Space - Iron Sky

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lucifer's Hammer, 1977

Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, first published in 1977, is the mother of all end-of-the world stories. A comet impacts on Earth and modern civilization is ruined by the resulting natural disasters. The novel follows a large cast of characters and details the discovery of the comet, the resulting panic and media hype, impact (so-called "Hammerfall") and the aftermath in various scenarios.

Reading this book and Cormac McCarthy's The Road alongside, you can't help noting the striking similarities in the setting of both novels: The Road could easily be a sequel to Lucifer's Hammer, taking place a few years or decades after Hammerfall, with stockpiled provisions running out and cannibals and madman all over the place. All of these story elements are referenced in Hammer, and "road" becomes a fixed term for the inhabitants in the gathered community called the Stronghold: individuals who are not useful for the society or have committed a crime are punished by "putting them on the road", i.e. throwing them out of the safe camp, so it becomes a constant worry for everybody: "The road was always there, and nobody ever forgot it."

Before the sun burned, before the planets formed, there were chaos and the comets.

Chaos was a local thickening in the interstellar medium. Its mass was great enough to attract itself, to hold itself, and it thickened further. Eddies formed. Particles of dust and frozen gas drifted together, and touched, and clung. Flakes formed, and then loose snowballs of frozen gases. Over the ages a whirlpool pattern developed, a fifth of a light year across. The center contracted further. Local eddies, whirling frantically near the center of the storm, collapsed to form planets.

It formed as a cloud of snow, far from the whirlpool's axis. Ices joined the swarm, but slowly, slowly, a few molecules at a time. Methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide; and sometimes denser objects struck it and embedded themselves, so that it held rocks, and iron. Now it was a single stable mass. Other ices formed, chemicals that could only be stable in the interstellar cold.

It was four miles across when the disaster came.

Read Lucifer's Hammer

Neuromancer movie

William Gibson's Neuromancer has been optioned to be made into a movie several times. During the last ten years, Robert Longo, Chris Cunningham and now Joseph Kahn have been rumoured to direct the long-awaited movie.

Gibson himself has uttered skepticism about all speculations and said on his blog that he'll believe it when he sees the movie shot. This was in response to posters on his forum discussing the proposed Kahn adaptation (of which the image at the beginning of this post is supposed to be the film poster artwork).

So it certainly comes as a surprise that Production Weekly posted the following on Twitter, yet failed to elaborate on it or quote a source:

Liv Tyler in talks to star in Joseph Kahn's adaptation of "Neuromancer," based on the seminal novel by William Gibson.

As before, don't hold your breath on this one. You're better off re-reading the book, and learning more about Gibson and his fictional universe at the link below.

William Gibson aleph - Neuromancer (1984)

The Road movie first review

Esquire has already reviewed The Road, scheduled for opening this fall, and lauds it as "the most important movie of this year":

The terror of it is in a normal world made vacant. There is a surprising terror in a landscape of farmhouses full of possessions that have no function, a remarkable danger in a pile of old hammers, in the possibility of forgetting what things were once for.

The Road Movie Review - Inside Movie of the Road - Esquire

Monday, May 11, 2009

Salad fingers

Salad Fingers is a surreal horror Flash cartoon, created by David Firth. It's about a schizophrenic green-colored hunchback character with extremely long fingers, hence the name Salad Fingers. He is living alone in a wooden shack in an otherwise barren landscape, which is implied to be the aftermath of the "Great War".

Salad Fingers is extremely psychotic, communicating with inert objects around him (most notably his finger puppets, who all are assigned names) and inventing absurd and shocking scenarios. The series is also notable for its use of background music by Boards of Canada, Brian Eno, Sigur Rós and Aphex Twin. Posted here is my favorite episode but i urge you to check out all 8 at the artist's web site below.

Salad Fingers by David Firth

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Colin Fix

All is great in the worlds of Colin Fix, concept artist currently working on the artwork for Bioshock 2. I prefer his sketchbook posts on his own blog though, which range from Lovecraftian tentacle monsters and Giger-inspired aliens to comic-style panels with funny and absurd characters, many done in paint and all adorable.

Knuckle Deep

New Terminator trailer

A new long trailer for Terminator 4: Salvation is out. As big watchers of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, we can't wait for this movie to arrive in cinemas, even though there's a big chance that will not hold up to expectations.

io9 - Terminator Salvation In 4 Easy Minutes, Order Now!

The basic laws of human stupidity

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity is a cynical yet entertaining essay by Carlo M. Cipolla, exploring the characteristics and distribution of stupidity in a semi-academic fashion. Be sure to read the full text, as without explanation the rules are not necessarily obvious.

1. Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
2. The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals.
5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person. The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

The complete book of space travel

Check out these fine illustrations by Virgil Finlay (1914-1971) in The Complete Book of Space Travel by Albro Gaul, published in 1956. I can't help myself marveling at the part-retro, part-naïve art depictions of how the author thought space travel in the future would look like.

The first space pilot has already been born. He is probably between ten and sixteen years of age at this moment. Without doubt both he and his parents listen to radio and television programs dealing with much space adventure but with few accurate facts. This book is designed to outline the facts of space travel, and the conditions we expect to find in space and among the planets and stars. These facts alone are sufficiently exciting, since they are factors in man's greatest single adventure - the exploration of the universe.

Golden Age Comic Book Stories: Virgil Finlay 1914 ~ 1971

Star Trek bashing

The Onion reports about the outrage of Star Trek fans concerning the new Star Trek movie who complain about the absence of stiff acting and a storyline which actually makes sense:

Most fans were more upset by the look of the movie. Heart-stopping chases, state-of-the-art CGI, and alien battle scenes that don't just look like two out-of-shape guys in bad make-up fighting awkwardly--That's a real slap in the face of Trek fans.

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

Monday, May 4, 2009

Top 10 household Zombie fighting tools

Popular Mechanics just published a list with 50 Tools Everyone Should Own in their May 2009 issue. Great, but it would be much more important which tools from that list can also double as DIY weapons against the impending Zombie onslaught now wouldn't it? So I give you the 10 Zombie fighting tools everybody should own:

1. Broom / broomstick
Probably the worst choice under any circumstances. Useful for holding back some Z's but not really made for attack and killing. Worse, nowadays you'd usually end up with a broomstick made out of plastic, and even a wooden one would be quite prone to breaking.

2. Kitchen knife
Comes in a huge variety and can be found nearly anywhere, but has some severe drawbacks: Reach is very limited, the knife is prone to remain stuck in the body of your Zombie opponent, and breaking of the blade is a very true danger.

3. Screwdiver
Durable and easy to come by, but also quite limited in reach and use. One would have to attack the head part of the Zack at hand, most prominently eyes and nose, which poses a great danger of getting bitten (and that, we know, is a 99% no-go with nearly any variety of Zombie).

4. Baseball bat
Limited usability with this one. Firstly, quite hard to come by outside of an USA scenario, and even though fairly effective for the first few blows, might become warped or even break after a dozen hits. Conceivable substitutes would be hockey bat, cricket bat and golf club.

5. Hammer
Depending on size and make, not a bad choice at all! Hammers come in a huge variety and are usually easy to locate in any household. Go for the largest size, and also checking the head is not wobbly before going into action is preferred.

6. Shovel
Blunt tools give you an edge over Zombies, since you don't need to stab and slash to kill them, but kick their head in. So a sturdy shovel (or spade, or even the fabulously handy trench tool) will do a good job to keep those Zeds at bay and even down them with some targeted blows.

7. Pipe Wrench
As with all tools up here on the evolutionary ladder of Zombie fighting household tools, the big industrial types are much larger and sturdier, but probably much harder to get a hold on in a pinch. This tool is also the most versatile, because you can use it to disassemble any machinery you encounter on the way to sell the intact parts on the scavenger black market in exchange for much-needed bottlecaps.

8. Axe
One of the oldest tools of mankind and rightly at the forefront of Zombie bone crunching. I'd prefer a blunt (not spiked) back-side to have the best of both worlds - dismemberment with Side 1 and crushing with Side 2. Do not confuse with pick-axe, which is far less effective due to its pointed head!

9. Crowbar
A much disputed choice in the Zombie fighter community, but a sturdy large crowbar will not only open up crowds of Zack, but also any locked doors or crumbling walls on the way to wherever you're going to loot more provision stashes. If you're serious, go for the big brother of the crowbar, the titanium Halligan bar.

10. Sledgehammer
Not everyone has this at home (me included) but it's hands down the best choice for impromptu Zombie defense, as can be seen to great effect in the movie rec. Get a large one and pound away. Simple yet awesome!

Anything missing in your home from that list? Be sure to stock up in your local hardware store before it's too late. Note that chainsaw, lawnmower and some other tools of zombie extermination often featured in popular media are not part of the list as they are not independent of power or fuel (and are also considered not very effective by internet zombie fighters around the world).

A lot more options can be found at the Zombie Survival & Defense guide (link below).

Melee Weapons - Zombie Survival & Defense Wiki